The Importance of Transparency In Your Relationship
When it comes to dysfunction in a relationship, there could be a whole slew for reasons why it exists and why it’s difficult to move past.
But one thing I’ve noticed in my work with couples is that there’s one problem that shows up at the core of a whole lot of issues; a lack of transparency.
The thing is, without transparency, you don’t have a relationship, you have an acquaintanceship.
All relationships are built on trust and intimacy. The only way to have trust and intimacy is through being honest and transparent about who you are as a person. Revealing to your partner your secrets, your motives, your beliefs, etc.
But to do so, it requires you to be vulnerable, and being vulnerable can be scary. We’re afraid of the potential rejection, judgment or shame that could come along with opening up.
So we end up developing a bunch of habits to protect ourselves, but end up only creating distance and dysfunction within the relationship.
For example, how often do you tell “little white lies” to keep the peace in your relationship? How often do you avoid discussing your needs so you don’t look needy or feel like a nag? Or, how often do you over-explain yourself or make excuses for something to avoid taking responsibility for it?
These are all seemingly small things when they’re isolated, but when they become habits and we would rather avoid the discomfort of revealing our true feelings or motives than be honest and transparent in the moment, we create a sense of false peace within the relationship.
You end up forming habits of keeping things from each other, manipulating situations in favor of your reputation and other things that just keep you from being able to really connect with each other.
Not to mention, whenever something goes wrong, it’s the ability to tap into your feelings and beliefs that allows you to deal with your problems at the root, instead of just fighting about what’s on the surface.
I can go on all day, but you get a sense of why a lack of transparency underlies so many relationship issues.
So in order to establish more openness in your relationship, there are a few things you should consider.
1. Feeling Safe Enough To Open Up To Each Other Is Paramount
One question I get asked all the time is, “How can I be honest with my partner without it turning into an issue?"
I realized that at the core of that question is the fear of being rejected, judged or punished for whatever truth is spoken.
The fact is, a lot people say they want their partner to be honest with them, but once their partner is honest, they lash out because it’s not what they wanted to hear.
As a result, their partner ends up being dishonest or putting up walls to avoid being on the other end of that push back.
They’re also more likely to be open with people outside the relationship because those other people respond to their vulnerability with understanding instead of judgement.
So be intentional about making your relationship the safest place you feel opening up about what’s really going on in your heart and mind.
One great place to start is with the simple question, “What can I do better to make you feel more safe opening up to me in our relationship?” and then make the effort to do so.
2. Hide Nothing
Once you can make your relationship feel more safe, it’s important to set the expectation that you can both be transparent about any and everything.
Like I mentioned before, the only way to build trust in your relationship is to be open with each other.
I don’t just mean being open about what you ate for lunch today. I mean being open about the stuff below the surface as well…your feelings.
[I wrote about how being transparent early on in our relationship saved us from many headaches down the line in my free eBook, 4 Conversations Every Unmarried Couple Needs To Have [If You're Serious About Your Relationship]]
This is the toughest part. That means being able to discuss your internal struggles, your fears, your ambitions, goals, etc.
Sharing your heart and mind is par for the course when it comes to deepening your relationship and creating intimacy. It’s the thing that helps you create a strong connection with each other.
3. Love Each Other Through The Discomfort
If your partner chooses to be honest with you and share something that puts them in a vulnerable situation, especially if it’s hard to hear, do your best to meet that honesty with love instead of judgment.
No one is perfect. In order to grow in our relationship we have to be willing to own up to our shortcomings. Being able to do so means having a partner who’s willing to be receptive to those uncomfortable truths.
It’s an uncomfortable situation for the both of you. Difficult to say and difficult to hear.
But by being receptive to their honesty and responding with love, you establish a connection that is less about being perfect and more about growth and improving yourselves together.
However, that doesn’t mean you just smile and gloss over the issue either. It’s important to express your hurt or pain, get to the core of the issue, reconcile and get back to rebuilding your connection with each other.
If it’s deeper than what you’re comfortable handling, seek out professional help. Just appreciate the fact that you were both able to attack the issue as a team instead of attacking each other.
So what are your thoughts? What do you and your partner do to maintain transparency in your relationship? How has being completely open with each other benefitted you?
Leave a comment and let me know!